GEORGE TOWN, May 18 — Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today urged Putrajaya to allow the state government to accept a donation of two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from a private company.
The Penang lawmaker said the private company had offered to donate two million doses of Sinovac, the Covid-19 vaccine from China, back in February.
He said the state secretary had officially written to the Health Ministry secretary-general for approval to accept the donated vaccine.
“The secretary-general replied in a letter on March 12 rejecting our application,” he said in a press conference in Komtar today.
He said among the reasons the ministry gave for the rejection was that the federal government is implementing the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme which will be offered for all Malaysians free.
Chow said the Sinovac vaccine was not approved yet back in early February but now that it is an approved vaccine, the federal government should allow Penang to accept the donation.
“If we accept the donated vaccines, we can immediately administer it to everyone in Penang and achieve herd immunity faster,” he said.
He said the Health Ministry can then channel its supply of vaccines to other states.
He said now that the federal government allows Selangor and Sarawak to purchase its own vaccines, it should allow Penang to accept the vaccine contribution from a private company.
“We contacted the company again and the offer still stands so if the federal government gives us the greenlight, we will accept the CSR contribution from the company,” he said.
However, Chow said there might be issues with the vaccine supply now.
“We might not get the two million doses as supply at this point of time is low and demand is high,” he said.
When asked if the state could have accepted the donated vaccines without obtaining approval from Putrajaya since Sinovac is an approved vaccine now, Chow said the approval could have been given.
“We are calling this press conference to bring this up so they could have easily said yes and we will immediately accept the offer,” he said.
He wanted to know why Sarawak and Selangor were allowed to purchase their own vaccines but Penang is not allowed to accept vaccine contributions.
“What is important now is to achieve herd immunity through vaccination so the federal government should allow us to accept this contribution,” he said.
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general and Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng expressed his anger at Putrajaya for not allowing the contribution of two million vaccine doses.
“Why can they accept political donations but they reject a contribution of Covid-19 vaccine doses that could have vaccinated all Penangites?” he asked.
He said all of the frontliners and those in the high-risk group would have been vaccinated by now if the contribution was allowed in February.
“I propose to the state to accept the contribution rather than wait for Putrjaya’s approval, if they want to punish us for this, we will accept the punishment,” he said.
He said it does not make sense that a donation of vaccines that could create herd immunity against Covid-19 could be rejected.
As for the proposed field Intentive Care Unit (ICU) to be set up at Kepala Batas, Chow said the state is supporting the setting up of the 27-bed facility.
“The technical team is working hard to set it up with a budget of RM2.038 million,” he said.